Church Saint Symphorien of Versailles!!

And coming back to update this off the beaten path monument of my beloved Versailles. You need to know the city and go back into residential areas to see this beauty, but a walk is well recommended. I like to tell you more about the Church Saint Symphorien of Versailles!! This is my challenge to you to come to see more than the palace in Versailles.  Hope you enjoy it as I.

And I have to tell you more of my beloved Versailles! The city did a study where 98% of visitors only come to the palace/museum, what a pity!! You are missing out on a Royal and de facto capital of France with numerous things to see of great value.  I like to tell you a bit more on the Church Saint Symphorien in the district of Montreuil , just north of my former home district following the same line on the avenue Saint Cloud and Avenue de Paris up. See Versailles at its best!

versailles st-symphorien-front-mar13

The old village of Montreuil was only attached to Versailles in 1787. So it developed a little out of the way and kept the charm of a village, massaged around the Church Saint Symphorien.  It is an early example of neoclassical architecture. It was in this district that, under king Louis XIV, the Italian musicians (see post) who were assigned to the palace’ Chapel settled. Visit their home, which now houses the Compagnonnique Union Museum . Its proximity to the Château also brought Montreuil to be chosen by some of the great ladies of the court in the 18C for the installation of beautiful resorts, like the estate of Madame Elisabeth,(see post) sister of Louis XVI, whose park you will enjoy! (again see previous post on her).

vesailles st-symphorien-back mar13

The Church Saint Symphorien is on a square at the end of bd Lesseps, and at the intersection of rue Saint-Charles, rue de Montreuil and rue d’Artois . The square of the church gives a place of the same name as the church, the place Saint Symphorien. This is in the district of Montreuil a royal neighborhood of which the construction was done between 1764 and 1770. There are wonderful paintings and the next to is a colourful commercial street rue de Montreuil leading to Avenue des Etats Unis full of shops, bistros, very lively at nights.

The Church Saint Symphorien is a south-facing building with an elongated plan ending with a semicircular apse surmounted by a steeple. The west and east sides are grafted into a chapel. The nave is three aisles and seven bays. The style is Neo-Classical and 18C. The nave is vaulted in cradle. Colonnades separate the central nave from the aisles. The cradle vault is decorated with a coffered ceiling. The arch in the end of the apse is adorned with a fresco by Demachy. The total length of St Symphorien is 52 meters by its bell steeple rises to 30 meters.  The vault fresco are as far as the shades of clothing are concerned, red is the color of sacrifice, the blue, that of the sky and the white, the symbol of purity. In the fresco, Saint-Symphorien is on the right, Sainte Geneviève on the left. The Resurrection of Christ painting was behind the altar until the French revolution. In the 19C, when the apse was painted, it was placed in a lateral chapel.



The main façade is advanced by an antique portico, enhanced by stair steps, with a pediment decorated with a clock. The side walls are pierced by eight rectangular bays. A second entry is on the north end. It is surrounded by two columns and a triangular pediment. It is also topped by a square steeple, pierced by a bay and decorated with a clock. The roof is double-sloped.

A bit of history I like

The history of the Church of St. Symphorien begins in the early 6C when a first building is built at the corner of current rue St. Symphorien and rue de l’école des postes. A second church would have succeeded it and then the Célestins monks of Paris, owners of the land, had a third sanctuary rebuilt in 1472. A project to expand the old Church is signed by the King dated September 15, 1754. But it is finally a new Church that is built. On January 1, 1787, the new Church of Montreuil became the third parish of Versailles. The aisles are adorned with great paintings from the 17C and 18C. Note that there is no stained glass in the church of St. Symphorien. With the French revolution, the Church of St. Symphorien was desecrated, the vases stolen, the furniture scattered. Then the building was closed. The cult of reason was not celebrated there. With the Concordat of July 1801 the Church found its status as an official place of worship.

A bit of current history on the separation of State and Church very vividly lived here. This is from the archives of Versailles , translation by yours truly.  At the end of the law of 9 December 1905, the priests were no longer paid and the State became the owner of the Church property which remained at the disposal of the clergy, but without any legal title. When the officials of the French Republic came to compile an inventory of the property of the Church Saint Symphorien, on February 8, 1906, there was an insurrection. Here are the facts.

The priests were informed that the inventory has to start from 8h to 14h . By 11h, merchants closed their shop, the population began to assembled around the Church. Fearing incidents, the security forces take a stand (gendarmerie, Genie, Dragons) to block access to the church. A violent brawl erupts with punches, cane and chair. There are some slight casualties. Demonstrators manage to return to the Church where the defence is organized. The small front door is only open, it is blocked by a barrage of chairs. The double central door remains closed. At 14h, everyone is there: the priests and the Council , the prefect and an inspector of the fields. The troop is ordered to roll back the demonstrators. They take that order for provocation. Cries of anger in the crowd, young men hold the horses of the constables, notables are arrested. With difficulty, the police come to the end of the dam of chairs that blocks the door . The Prefect enters the Church with the estate agent. Chairs are thrown from the organ gallery. The prefect is hit in the head. He orders to clean the tribune and leave to be bandaged. The gendarmes enter the nave by protecting themselves with chairs. A shower of projectiles falls on them. The door of the staircase leading to the Tribune is driven by an axe. The troop rushes, clears the crowded staircase, and then pushes the top door. Finally six defenders are arrested, including a Vicar. An official protest is read to the domain officer who recognizes that the inventory is impossible in this mess. The prisoners, gathered at the rue Saint-Pierre prison, immediately appear in a hearing of flagrant offences. The convictions, including that of the prelate, will be severe. Postscript: things never change in my belle France!

Hope you enjoy the ride and do visit this wonderful Church Saint Symphorien of Versailles, history and a nice neighborhood of great architecture and history too, many of the nobles of the court of Versailles own homes here, but that is another story to be read in my blog.

oh yes the ride well there is little on it the walk is about 22-25 minutes from the Chateau de Versailles a wonderful walk full of French history. Best to come out left on place d’Armes by the horse statue of Louis XIV, continue walking left until the Avenue de Saint Cloud, take a right here and continue walking on it. You will pass the famous Lycée Hoche on your left keep walking to the round traffic circle ,this is Place Alexandre Ier; bear right and on the 3rd street turn right this is rue de Montreuil; this street takes you straight into place Saint Symphorien , look right and the Church is facing you!

There is one webpage from the official Parish of Church Saint Symphorien in French here:

Again, a recommended walk into the off the beaten path of my beloved Versailles ,hope you enjoy it and do walk it, and see beautiful architecture and history at it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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